Meet 5 amazing women who share about thie journeys with one of the gynecologic cancers:
LYNN’S STORY: Uterine cancer survivor. Diagnosed at age 32. Symptoms: change in the menstrual cycle, fatigue, then profuse vaginal bleeding. She was diagnosed with clear cell carcinoma and had surgery and radiation. Her advice: I learned to write down all my questions in a notebook and take that with me—and to take someone else with me to hear it. Listen to your body—it does tell you things. Don’t pooh pooh something. It’s really just about listening to your body. It’s about knowing yourself.”
TIFFANY: Ovarian cancer diagnosis at age 32. Bloating and unexplained weight gain were the initial symptoms. The doctor ordered an x-ray and an upper endoscopy, followed by a CT scan one month later. A hysterectomy was performed followed by chemotherapy. Tiffany wants women to know that the PAP smear does not detect ovarian cancer. My advice to women would be listen to your bodies; don’t assume that it’s just nothing. Make sure that it’s just nothing. Remember you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else!
ANA R.: Cervical cancer diagnosis at age 36. Abnormal vaginal bleeding. For 8 years she had abnormal PAP smears and she was not told she had HPV. After some surgeries and chemotherapy, Ana is cancer free. I want women to know they need to take care of themselves. Don’t skip your annual exams, and if you feel something is amiss with your body, don’t worry about bothering doctors or upsetting them. This is your life! I also want people to know that my generation could potentially be the LAST generation to have cervical cancer. We can eradicate this disease by vaccinating our children, daughters AND sons. This is my mission now: to share my story so that others don’t have to go through what I went through.
TERESA: Vulvar cancer diagnosis age 40. Her symptom was a large and hard bump, which required two surgeries to completely remove the cancerous bump. It was caused by the HPV virus. Teresa stated Vulvar cancer might manifest in a way that causes shame, because you could conclude that you have an STD (sexually transmitted disease) and not want to get that embarrassing news. But I’d much rather be embarrassed and alive than modest and dead. Early detection is key. And if you have children who are preteens or teens, please get them vaccinated against HPV.
SARAH: at age 38 diagnosed with vaginal cancer. Her symptom was spotting after intercourse. She tested positive for HPV. Her treatment was radiation and chemotherapy. My message to other women is this: ask your doctor about Pap and HPV tests. Screenings are important to catch any problems early, when they are more treatable. Do not let fear, embarrassment, or shame prevent you from finding the help you need. You are not alone!
Thank you for reading these stories. For more stories go to https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ovarian/stories/index.htm, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/stories/index.htm, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/vagvulv/stories/index.htm, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uterine/stories/lynn.htm